W2W4: Barclays Center Classic

The college basketball season officially begins on Friday, with a whopping 125 Division 1 games on the schedule.

We'll be at the Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn -- a doubleheader featuring LIU-Brooklyn versus Morehead State at 5:45 p.m. (on ESPN3), followed by No. 3 Kentucky against Maryland at 8:30 p.m. (on ESPN).

Here are three things to watch for:

A NEW ERA: The brand-new Barclays Center has already hosted concerts and Brooklyn Nets basketball since its grand opening earlier this fall. On Friday night, it will host college hoops for the very first time.

Having Kentucky, the defending national champs, open the new building for college hoops is a major coup. All in all, the Barclays Center will host six preseason Top 25 teams in the coming weeks, including consensus No. 1 Indiana. It will also host the Atlantic 10 conference tournament in March.

THE MAIN EVENT: John Calipari brings a new-look Wildcats squad to Brooklyn. Six -- yes, six -- players from last year's national championship squad were selected in the subsequent NBA draft, including four in the first round.

Why is Kentucky ranked No. 3 in the country then? Well, because Calipari has reeled in yet another outstanding recruiting class -- including three McDonald's High School All-Americans.

It will take some time for this young team to gel. But you'll see lots of raw talent on the floor Friday night. In particular, keep an eye on 6-foot-10 freshman Nerlens Noel -- the top recruit in the country, who is already drawing comparisons to former Kentucky star and No. 1 NBA draft pick Anthony Davis.

Maryland, under second-year coach Mark Turgeon, is picked to finish sixth in the ACC. The Terrapins' leading returning scorers are sophomore guard Nick Faust (8.9 ppg) and senior forward James Padgett (8.8 ppg).

THE APPETIZER: LIU-Brooklyn will certainly get a boost from the Barclays Center, which is located less than a mile from campus. The Blackbirds are scheduled to play three games there this season, also facing Seton Hall on Dec. 22 and St. Francis (NY) on Feb. 10.

LIU is the two-time defending Northeast Conference champion, and is picked to win the NEC again this year. But if the Blackbirds pull the three-peat, they'll do it with a new coach at the helm. Jim Ferry departed for Duquesne in the offseason, and assistant coach Jack Perri is now in charge. But NEC Player of the Year Julian Boyd is back, along with three other starters.

Morehead State, an NCAA Tournament team in 2009 and 2011, is coming off an 18-15 season, and is picked to finish fourth in the East Division of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Eagles have a new coach too, after Donnie Tyndall left for Southern Miss in April -- Sean Woods, the former Kentucky point guard, who led Mississippi Valley State to the Big Dance last season. Their leading returning scorer is junior forward Drew Kelly (10.2 ppg).